“YOU PULL IT, YOU SWITCH IT, YOU TOP IT”: EARLY PRE-PUBLICATION MANUSCRIPT OF CAIN’S PAST ALL DISHONOR, PRECEDING THE NOVEL
CAIN, James M. Past All Dishonor. H.N. Swanson, [circa 1946]. Quarto, original mimeographed typescript measures 8-1/2 by 11 inches, bound with brads, original black wrappers, 185 leaves with typescript on recto only (paginated at 183), paper label affixed to front wrapper. $1650.
Advance mimeographed typewritten draft of Cain’s Civil War crime novel, a favorite of Cain’s for its use of “the old switcheroo,” in manuscript format for submission to Hollywood studios, preceding the 1946 publication of his novel and containing parts changed in the final published edition.
Submitted by James M. Cain’s agents at H.N. Swanson to Hollywood studios at the height of his career, this early manuscript of Past All Dishonor contains elements altered in the final published novel. Though it would ultimately be one of the few Cain novels not filmed, the novel, published in 1946, remained one of the writer’s favorite works, expressing a theme that defined his art—the excitement of chasing a dream and the ruin hidden in its capture. Years later Cain recalled the novel with particular pride, particularly its use of “the old switcheroo” that was perfected in this story of Civil War deserter, a prostitute and a train robbery. “This was a very nice situation,” he noted, “and I was able to top it, and that’s always what you try to do… You pull it, you switch it, you top it” (Paris Review). H.N. Swanson, Cain’s literary agency, also represented writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler. See Hubin, 62.
Interior fine; several tiny closed tears to original fragile wrappers in near-fine condition. A unique and memorable piece of literary and film history.